Why GM Earnings Have Investors Interested Again

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General Motors Co. (NYSE: GM) reported fourth-quarter and full-year 2017 results before markets opened Tuesday. For the quarter, the automaker posted adjusted diluted earnings per share (EPS) of $1.65 on revenues of $37.72 billion. In the same period a year ago, the company reported EPS of $1.36 on revenues of $39.9 billion. Fourth-quarter results also compare to the consensus estimates for EPS of $1.38 and $36.55 billion in revenues.

For the full year, GM reported EPS of $6.62 and revenues of $145.59 billion, compared with EPS of $6.12 and revenues of $149.18 billion in 2016. Analysts had forecast EPS of $6.35 and revenues of $145.47 billion.

On a GAAP basis, GM reported an earnings per share loss of $3.46 for the fourth quarter, which included a tax adjustment charge of $5.04 per share, a charge of $0.19 per share for discontinued operations and a charge of $0.07 related to stock incentive compensation plans.

The company attributed its fourth-quarter results to crossover sales, strong pricing and cost control, all of which offset a wholesale volume decline.

Global retail sales volumes decreased by 8.9% in the fourth quarter, while global market share dipped from 11.4% to 10.3%. Excluding Europe, global retail sales were flat and global share ticked down from 12.6% to 12.5%.

Year over year in the United States, quarterly market share slipped 0.3 points to 18.1%, Latin American share dipped 0.3 points to 16.5%, and Asia/Pacific, Middle East, Africa sales rose 0.1 points to 10.3%. Fleet sales increased from 150.5% to 17.4% of retail sales.

Regarding its continuing inventory issues, GM noted in its earnings presentation that U.S. dealer inventory closed the year at 63 days of supply, down 90,000 units, below the company’s target of 70 days.

Mary Barra, the company’s CEO, said:

The actions we took to further strengthen our core business and advance our vision for personal mobility made 2017 a transformative year. We will continue executing our plan and reshaping our company to position it for long-term success.

The company did not provide guidance with its announcement and referred to its statement last month in which it forecast full-year 2018 to be largely in line with 2017. The introduction of GM’s all-new full-size pickups later this year is expected to help accelerate earnings in 2019. Consensus estimates call for first-quarter EPS of $1.50 and revenues of $34.12 billion. For the full year, analysts are looking for EPS of $6.05 and revenues of $142.83 billion.

GM’s shares traded up about 1.7% in Tuesday’s premarket session, at $40.20 in a 52-week range of $31.92 to $46.76. The 12-month consensus price target for the shares was $47.30 before this morning’s report.